Serialising
in Dissolute characters
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In quality of writing, the contrast between novels and tales in Sheridan Le Fanu's last years was stark. The demonstration of seriality provided by Jean-Paul Sartre looks strikingly ill-suited to the needs of Le Fanu's readers. In the late nineteenth century, writers sought to protect literature from the effect of seriality by a kind of pure writing, which would reflect back to each isolated reader, each solipsistic consciousness. Le Fanu's particular instance of serial displacement from one character on to another lies not so much on the axis of pain/pleasure but rather in the ethical domain of guilt/innocence. Whether one turns to Jurgen Habermas and his theory of 'the bourgeois social sphere' or to Sartre's idea of urban alienation as 'serial unity', a radicalised view of the modern city is wholly compatible with this reading of Le Fanu's late fiction.

Dissolute characters

Irish literary history through Balzac, Sheridan Le Farm, Yeats and Bowen

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